Pittsboro Town Board votes to accept distressed designation for water and wastewater utility

Pittsboro, NC – At a specially called meeting of the Board of Commissioners for the Town of Pittsboro on Thursday, June 30, 2022, the Board unanimously passed a resolution that officially requested that the Town’s water and wastewater utility be designated as “distressed” under the State’s Viable Utility Program.

Established via State Statute in 2020, the Viable Utility Program is designed to allow water and wastewater utility systems that may be financially, organizationally, or operationally troubled to apply for additional funding to study rate structures and organizational realignments, as well as help pay for construction projects to include revitalization, interconnections between systems, and utility system mergers.

The State Water Infrastructure Authority (SWIA) and the Local Government Commission (LGC) developed the Viable Utility Program criteria to assess local government units and identify potentially distressed units. The Town’s most recent evaluation found that, for the first time, our utilities may be distressed. The State did not force the designation on the Town but reported that our score on the evaluation placed us above the threshold for a distressed designation and allowed us to either accept the designation, provide reasoning for why the utility is not distressed, or take steps to correct the concerns and to reduce the score. Upon review of the Town’s available options, the Town recognized that the benefits of a distressed designation outweighed any negatives which may come along with the title, including the ability to be eligible for funding only available to distressed units.

By accepting the designation, the Town has agreed to conduct an asset assessment and rate study, participate in a training and educational program, and develop a short-term and long-term action plan which considers infrastructure repair, maintenance, and management, continuing education of the governing board and system operating staff, and a long-term financial management plan.

The Town also agreed to provide adequate access to staff, documents, equipment, and other resources needed for completing any future Viable Utility Program projects and, upon completion of the projects, to make a full-faith effort in implementing short- and long-term plans designed to achieve system viability.

As updates on the Town’s voluntary acceptance as a distressed unit become available additional information will be released to keep the public informed.